Open Letter to Ed Bascome at Epcon

Hey Ed, I had the pleasure of touring one of your 55+ communities. You seem to have a good niche market there as I learned that you have communities in twenty-eight states. I was looking for a friend as my husband is never leaving our current house.

The guy who was showing me the house was a real man splainer. While looking at the living room I asked him about these tiny walls that were no more than nine inches deep that came out from the longest wall in the room. Man Splainer told me they were “wing walls.”

Looking at them I could tell they were purely decorative, and not load bearing so I had a follow up question of, “Why would anyone want those wing walls.” Man Splainer did not have an answer, he wasn’t a decorator so I forgave him. I asked if someone buying a new build house could have those tiny, useless, wing walls left out.

Man Splainer practically prostrated himself at the wing wall and told me, “Under no circumstances could you get this model house without the wing walls, because Ed, the President insists they are built into this model.”

“Really? So you have to build these little walls, drywall and mud then, paint them, then lay a floor that goes around the walls, which is a lot more trouble that laying a floor along a straight wall. If someone doesn’t want them you wouldn’t just not put them in and save yourself the time and money it takes to have them?”

“No, absolutely not. Ed insists.”

Since I was having so much fun with Man Splainer I continued. “So, once someone buys this house and they own it, can they redecorate the inside anyway they want?”

“Yes, the only rules about redecorating are about the outside.”

“So, a new homeowner who might have a big, long sofa, which they may want to place against this wall, who owns those wing walls now, must pay someone to come take them out, patch the floor that was underneath them trying to match the floor that goes throughout the rest of the house, repair the wall they were attached and repaint, just so they can put their big furniture against this wall?”

Man Splainer, was so embarrassed to have to say, “Yes, that is what would have to happen.”

Ed, you are being blamed for this ridiculous policy. This entire conversation reminded me of Jack Nicholson in the movie Five Easy Pieces. Jack was in a diner, where he wanted some plain wheat toast with his omelette, instead of the roll it came with. The waitress said no substitutions. So Jack ordered a toasted Chicken salad Sandwich on wheat with his omelette, hold, the Mayo, lettuce and chicken salad, just so he could get the toast.

Ed, don’t be the waitress. Let customers hold the wing walls.

May is Just Around the Corner

On January 25 I wrote a blog called “We need vaccine manufacturing to increase. You can reread it here if you want.

In it I suggested that Biden could use the war powers act to get Merck to help manufacture vaccines. I just want to say to the White House, “Good on you for listening to me!”

Now in all seriousness, it was not that creative an idea, so I am certain many other people also suggested it, but I am just thrilled that it is actually getting done.

This means that there will be enough vaccine produced by the end of May for everyone to get vaccinated. The faster the better because we need to shut down the hosts for the vaccine to continue to live and mutate. By the way, everyone who has not had the vaccine is a host. So don’t be one. Get the vaccine.

And don’t be like Texas. Continue wearing your masks until everyone is vaccinated. Now is not the time to let your guard down. There were 5,053 Covid cases in Texas today. Let’s see what happens in the next few weeks after Governor Abbot of Texas has removed the mask mandate and allowed all business to open. It’s just a little premature. May is so close.

Waiting For Falling Food

The summer between my sophomore and Junior year I adopted my dog Beau. He was a sweet mixed terrier mutt and was eternally grateful to be saved from the shelter. I did not want a dog who begged for food from the table so I trained Beau to sit quietly while my three roommates and I ate at our dining room table.

Being a college student I certainly was not the best dog Mom I could be. Beau’s food was nothing more than kibble and he longed for whatever the humans were eating.

The nicest room in my college house was our dining room. We bought a used Victorian dining room set from the local used furniture store. We had a side board, table and four matching chairs. Dinners were about the only time all four of us might be home. We had a rotating schedule where one of us was in charge of cooking dinner for the house Monday-Thursday.

When we sat down for dinner Beau would come and sit in the dining room with us. As the dinner conversation would get underway we noticed that Beau would move around the table and stand beside the person who was laughing the hardest. We came to understand that Beau was doing this in hopes of having some food fall out of the laugher’s mouth. Begging was forbidden, but Beau was allowed to be our canine vacuum so any food that fell off the table, or out of your mouth was fair game.

I can’t remember much food falling out of anyone’s mouth, but it must have happened at least twice since the Beau could be counted on to be the laughers sidekick. That trait stayed with Beau his whole life and thus he especially liked when I had parties because that was his only chance for laughing food loss. Who says dogs are not brilliant?

Where’s the Remote?

This is a rare photo, one of all three TV remotes for just one of our TVs all in the same place. I could be a much more productive person if I didn’t have to spend so much time trying to find one of these devices. Allegedly I should be able to control this one TV with just one of these items, but that requires a Ph.d I don’t have.

The black one is the remote that came with our cable box. It is my go to remote. Right now half the buttons on it are not working. I can exchange it, but that involves going to the Spectrum store. Enough said.

The big silver one is the remote that came with our TV. I am only using it to do one action I can’t do on the cable remote, which is change from HDMI 1 to HDMI 2. Who names these things?

Once I get to HDMI 2 I use that tiny apple remote to run our apple box where all the streaming channels live. Now searching for a show on one of those channels is a nightmare as this little remote is old enough that it does not have a speaker function on it. But with Covid restrictions what else do I have to do than type in every letter on the search? It’s a first world problem.

My real issue is not the poor functioning of all these remotes, but just being able to find them at least ten minutes before I want to watch something. It’s not that I don’t have a bedside table where they usually live, but that they somehow can get up and walk away without explanation.

I think it is time to do away remotes all together and just be able to yell at the TV and have it turn on to the right channel at the right volume, like my Dad could when I was a kid. Kids were the remotes of the 1960’s and we were so much more reliable than these little boxes, plus we were harder to lose.

All Travel Versus No Travel

Carter texted me this afternoon because she wanted some photos from 2007 and 2008. As I was scrolling through the thousands of photos I noticed a theme in those year, travel! In 2008 we took 12 different trips. When I say we, Russ was on a few, Carter was on most and I had one alone. But still 12 trips in one years.

Carter and I riding bikes on the wall in Lucca

The length of the vacations varied from two weeks in Italy to two days in Williamsburg, but it appeared that we hardly stayed home that year.

Fast forward to this year. One three night stay at an air B & B in the mountains in June when we thought things were improving was our only vacation. Then there were my two driving trips to Boston and back to get Carter and bring her home. Those hardly count as trips since each trip was a thirty-six hour affair that consisted of driving 12-13 hours on back to back days.

Looking at the spring break photos of warm beach climates and the summer road trips to visit friends made me nostalgic for travel. I know I could get in the car now and drive someplace where I stand outdoors and look at something, like a tree or a rock. But I am not interested in eating inside and getting takeout and eating in a motel room sounds like the worst kind of travel ever. In fact it sounds too much like my days as a traveling salesperson and might cause me to have nightmares.

I am excited to hopefully get vaccinated this summer, but I am not sure when travel is going to come back in the picture. I feel like it might be OK to welcome visitors into my house once we have all had the vaccine, but when will I feel like it is safe to go to a foreign country?

I am not sure I will have 12 trips in one year anytime soon. I just know that I miss travel and I miss visiting friends. I was planning on making some photos books for Carter of trips we took together, but it seems sad and tortuous to do it now.

Blame It On The Moon

Last night I was desperate to go to sleep. I started at 10:30, but when I was still awake at 11:00 I pulled out a book to help bring on drowsiness. I put the book down at 11:45 only to toss and turn for almost three hours before I finally fell into a nightmare filled slumber.

Of course I can’t recall what I was dreaming about, just that they were so disturbing I kept waking up to get out of the story that had taken over my brain.

Usually I only have nightmares if I have eaten beef for dinner, but since I gave up red meat last year I can’t blame the nightmares on that. I hadn’t drunk much caffeine and certainly not later than two in the afternoon so that was not my issue.

I woke up at 7:45 and despite still being exhausted, coupled with no morning appointments, I could not go back to sleep.

I wander through my day, hoping that I was making myself tired enough for a big sleep tonight. As I was going through email after dinner I read a blurb in the Fast Forward report from the Boston Globe about the full moon and lack of sleep. Turns out that the night before a full moon many people have trouble sleeping. They take an extra 30 minutes to fall asleep on these almost full moon night. I wish I had only taken 30 minutes, instead of the four hours it took me last night, but at least I know the reason.

Now I am going to have to track the moon more closely and plan on taking a sleeping pill on those approaching full moons. I can’t take four hours tossing a turning even once a month.

Jicama Tacos

For many years when Carter would eat dinner at her friend Ellis house she would come home as make me guess what they had to eat. Since Ellis’ Mom Lynn always served something healthy I would say, “Turkey tacos.” Nine times out of ten I was correct.

As I was shopping at Trader Joe’s yesterday I saw a product I thought Lynn would love to add to her Turkey taco night, jicama wraps. Inspired by Lynn I went ahead and bought them along with a pound of ground Turkey breast.

Now I am a big flavor cook so tonight when I went to make the parts of taco night I had to go bold. I triple seasoned the Turkey meat as I browned it and then added water and cooked it down so the spices could take over. I chopped a whole big onion and sautéed it, added canned black beans and so much cumin, garlic and cayenne pepper you could. smell it outside. Then I made a little slaw with rice wine vinegar and carraway seeds. Add the hot Pico, sour cream, cilantro and avocado and it was a lot to fit into that little jicama wrap.

The wrap was a little slippery, but once I folded everything inside and took a bite it was a winner. Since it was just me and Russ, being messy eating it made little difference. The jicama takes all the guilt out of taco night.

I can’t wait until I can serve one to Lynn. They may never eat anything but Turkey tacos ever again.

I think that tomorrow I might try and slather a little hummus on the jicama wrap and shred some carrots and a slice of beet and see how that is. Maybe some grilled shrimp and cherry tomatoes with a bit of guacamole. The possibilities for these things could go on and on.

Great GMA Deal and Steal Right Now

My friend Shelayne and her husband Frank have a business that makes really cool laces for your sneakers call Lock Laces. You swap our your tie up laces with these that you just slide closed.

This morning they were featured on Good Morning America’s Deals and Steals. You can get a three pack for half price – Only $9.99 and FREE SHIPPING! Visit

I can attest that these laces work great and practically make my sneakers slip on but also fit perfectly.

Creative Exercise

Today was a gorgeous day here in Durham. It was sunny and I think we got into the seventies. It was the kind of day that people take the day off from work to enjoy. Proof that people were not doing mundane things is when I went to Trader Joe’s mid morning I was able to walk right in the store and not have to wait in a long line. Then, when I finished filling my cart I had several TJ Team members vying for me to check out at their register.

Even though I had to spend some of this beautiful day grocery shopping I wanted to do something productive outside. That is when I remembered that there were ten giant boxes at church that needed to go into the dumpster.

Last month we took delivery of 20 six foot round tables. Each one came enveloped in a huge box. We unboxed the tables but the boxes were piled on the porch. A group of teenagers were enlisted to carry the boxes from the porch to the dumpster, a walk of about 300 yards.

Teenagers need really good instructions. Like “Move ALL the boxes.” Those were not the instructions given so they moved half the boxes. Perhaps the dumpster was full. Maybe they had Zoom school.

Since the boxes being there were driving me crazy I decided today was the perfect day to use moving those boxes as a good exercise opportunity. When I opened the dumpster gates I discovered a bunch of boxes that were sitting beside the dumpster instead of being inside. Sadly, they were too wet for me to lift the two feet over my head to get them inside. I hope that if we have another two days of hot and sunny weather those boxes will dry and I can get them in the dumpster. I will still need exercise in two days so I think I’ll go back and try and finish the job.

The Joy of Leaving the House

Russ and I are now at the point that we fight over going to the grocery store just for bananas. Each of us is wanting the excuse to leave the house. Russ works more than 12 hours a day so when he asks if he can go, I just let him. How can I say, “Stay in Carter’s old nursery turned home office another hour.” ?

After Christmas Russ joined the Loaf bread club. Loaf is our bread bakery downtown. It is the only place we get bread from. When Russ used to go to the office it was easy, since it is three blocks from his office. Now one of has to make a trip on purpose. No one is complaining.

I am not sure how many weeks this bread club is lasting, but so far it has been great. We get an email on Monday night telling us what the loaf will be and the treat that goes with it. Last week if was a marbled rye that was more rye than marbles, but truly fantastic. This week it is a special Italian bread called Pane Altamura, fashioned after one from the Italian city of Bari on the Adriatic coast.

I drove downtown late morning and the sun was shining. It was such a treat to be out and for it not to be raining. I didn’t even have a coat on and I was perfectly happy.

This warm and sunny day and a place to go seems like such a gift. I was practically giddy getting to talk through my double masks to the baker, telling her how much we liked the rye loaf.

As I think forward a few months to a time when we, and therefore most people around us, have received the vaccine I hope that I can remember these days when just a trip to the bakery makes me so happy. I hope that I will appreciate all that I have learned by being mostly home non-stop. I know that having Russ home all the time is the only way we have have a loaf of bread a week in the house. We are going to have to go back to two loaves a month when he leaves the nursery office.

Over 500,000 People

Almost a year ago Dr. Fauci predicted that between 250,000 and 400,000 Americans could be lost to Covid. The office holder at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. did not like the optics of those numbers during the election so he leaned on Fauci to reforecast the numbers down.

As Americans died at a rate greater than any other country that office holder did not acknowledge the loss of life. He never offered a comforting word to the American people. He just said, “like a miracle it would be gone.” What a heartless way to ignore the tragedy.

Today President Biden came on TV at six PM to offer words of condolence for the over 500,000 Americans who have succumbed to Covid. His compassion and his encouragement to stay vigilant were what our country has been needing for a year. Viruses are not political and they never should have been. We are all in this fight together.

The President had the bells at the National cathedral chime for the lost Americans and had candles lit at the White House while a moment of silence was observed. Flag will fly at half staff for the next three days.

Just consider that if each person who passed away is mourned by twenty people that is ten million people who are missing someone important to them. But I think 20 is a low number. What if each person who passed is being missed by 50 people, then 25 million people are in mourning.

We must not become numb to this loss of life. It can’t become normal that a thousand people die a day due to Covid. Each person who dies was loved by someone and all those someone’s are hurting.

Have We Met?

Yesterday my friend Sally sent me a Facebook posting asking me if I knew the writer. By all intents and purposes I should have, but I didn’t. As Sally is my age we got to talking about people who we should know, but can’t really remember them.

I admitted to Sally that I have friends who comment on this blog or the Facebook page related to this blog who I am not sure if I know them or not. With a blog, readers can stumble upon it so there is no telling if I know the reader or not. But sometimes I would like to know if a person going to the trouble of making a comment is someone I really do know.

So I am asking you, dear readers, who have commented, could the next time you leave a comment, or this time, just tell me if we have met and where, or some memorable story I might recognize. This will save me some future embarrassment.

Now if we never have met and you just read this blog I would love to know where you are from and maybe how you got here. This is just for my own interest.

I feel like I have a fairly good memory, but it certainly is not going to get any better. I know there are people I have met who made a big impact on me, but they have no reason to remember me at all. I am just trying to tie together threads that I am not even sure are untied.

So send me a message, tell me a story. I look forward to hearing from you.

Projects Galore

I like projects. I like series. I like making things. I always have. Way before Covid I did things like needlepoint, quilt, sew, garden, read, do puzzles, play games, but now with Covid it seems like that is all I do.

At any given time I may be working on three or four different things at a time. It works perfectly to move from project to project through the day to ease boredom and keep me from more mundane tasks. I like 2000 piece puzzles because they take a long time and good long books because once I know the characters I want to keep with them.

Today I finished four different projects, a puzzle, a good (not very long) book, a TV series and a needlepoint ornament. I hate that I finished all four on the same day. This means tomorrow I have to start new projects.

Starting is my least favorite part. I dislike sorting the puzzle pieces, but it is the only way to do such a big puzzle. I usually don’t love a book in the first few pages and need to get into it before I am hooked. And I would rather work on a needlepoint I have all the fibers pulled for than go through my stash and kit out a new project.

I could have saved the ending of any of these projects for tomorrow so that I didn’t end up with nothing by the end of the day, but when I get close to the end I work more furiously because I want to complete it.

Rather than getting up from the puzzle when I still had 200 pieces left, I just kept at it since it is so much easier at the end when you only have a few choices. As I was reading my book I couldn’t put it down with only 30 pages left. At that point I wanted to know what happened.

After finishing both those projects I turned to my needlepoint and it took just a bit to finish this canvas while I finished watching the TV series Lupin I was binging. If I wasn’t nearing the end of the series I might not have finished my needlepoint, but since I was wanting to know what happened on the show, I just kept stitching.

Now I am left with no puzzle, no book, no TV show and no needlepoint already started. It might be a sign that maybe I should vacuum the whole house or scrub every bathroom. I don’t have any fun projects started to distract me from the drudgery.

Had a Cold?

For a few summer months when I was in college I sold Electrolux vacuums door-to-door. It was an education unlike any I would ever receive in class.

For those of you unfamiliar with Electrolux models of the early eighties, they were very expensive canister models with a long suction wand that could reach almost anywhere. The wand made them usual in cleaning world dominated by inferior upright Hoover’s.

The key to selling these vacuums was just to get in the door of a house. Once inside I could convince most any woman that she had to have this vacuum. Not to be sexist, but men cared less about the features I illuminated. The best way to sell this machine was to ask when the homeowner last vacuumed their mattress. If they owned an upright the answer was “never.” If they owned a canister is was never 99% of the time.

After asking that leading question I followed up with a second question I was absolutely certain to get a “yes” to. “Has anyone in your house had a cold in the last year?” In 1981 everyone, especially people with children, had at least one family member who had suffered a cold in the last twelve months. From there I went into a disgusting demonstration of vacuuming a small section of their mattress and dumping out the dust that came from it. I made the questionable connection of not vacuuming your mattress and getting a cold or some other worse illness.

They bought the vacuum on the spot and quite frankly loved them, as they told me when I would stop back to take their testimonial and ask for references for other potential future Electrolux owners.

Now think back to your house this year. Have you vacuumed your mattress? My bet is the answer is no. Now has anyone in your house had a cold in the last year? If not, have you been a family of loyal mask wearers and hand washers?

Most likely you can thank your mask for keeping you well from the common cold as well as the seasonal flu.

I am certain that vacuum companies do not use mattress vacuuming as their selling points these days. It is a good thing because rather than getting people to cough up thousands of dollars for a vacuum to keep them from getting a cold, as well as having a clean house, you could just sell them a ten dollar mask. Unfortunately, wearing a mask won’t do a thing for getting rid of dust under the dining room table.

For now I hope that people will keep up their mask wearing and hand washing if just to keep from getting a cold.

Monograms Are Not For Yards

When Russ and I were first married he lived in South Jersey not far from Cherry Hill. Cherry Hill was the home of the biggest Mall, not surprisingly known as the Cherry Hill Mall. As this was the early nineties the styles they sold in the Cherry Hill Mall were of the big hair, big shoulder pads and long fringed pocket book types. The natives also had an accent that really grated on Russ when I would imitate it. All in all there was not much classy about the Cherry Hill Mall.

As bad as the gum snapping teen-aged girls with purple eye shadow in high waisted jeans and cropped tops were inside the mall they were nothing compared to one particular house that was adjacent the mall. It was a white ranch house with a front yard that had a barge berm covered in white rocks with a big script “L” in black rocks on top. The tacky letter was at least ten feet by ten feet and looked like the giant “L” on Laverne’s left breast.

Every time Russ and I drove by that house I made him promise me we would never live in a neighborhood where people monogramed their front lawns. Thankfully he agreed and we left Jersey as fast as possible. I am sorry I never got a photo of that house because my description only pales in comparison to what it actually looked like. The tackiness of the Cherry Hill Mall was nothing compared to the House with the initial out front.

Chicken for Friends

I have a ritual of making my grand mother’s fried chicken for friends who have had a death in the family. The only time I make it is for a death and so when Russ walks in the house and smells it he says, “Somebody died?” And thus the chicken has been renamed “Somebody died? Fried Chicken.”

Bringing the chicken and rice and gravy that goes with it is my expression of love. Sadly it seems like I have more people to make chicken for these days than ever. The hardest thing for me is trying to show my true condolences to my friends who are too far away to get the chicken.

Making the chicken is an ordeal and it is yummy. It is not like KFC, not crispy, but a chicken that is fried and the steamed making it so tender. The real treat from it is the gravy. My friend Nancy who lost both her parents in a year got the meal twice and now asks me if there is any extra gravy available when I make the chicken for others. This from a woman who wouldn’t normally eat gravy.

I am racking my brain to come up with an appropriate way to love on my friends who have lost a parent who are far away. A scratch and sniff chicken card doesn’t mean anything to them if they never got the chicken to begin with.

For now, I hope that everyone stays well. That there is no need for me to make anymore chicken. For my friends far away who have lost a loved one, just know that when the day comes that I can be with you again I will be making you chicken. Chicken delayed is just as sweet when you get to enjoy it in memory of your loved one.

Tomorrow’s Suzanne’s Birthday

I’m getting a jump on wishing my Matron of honor, dearest friend Suzanne a Happy Birthday. Tomorrow is her big birthday and with Covid It is certainly not going to be the celebration I normally would have participated in.

As we are are locked in our own homes far from each other I wanted to give all our common friends a heads up to wish Suzanne a Happy Day on February 17!

Suzanne and I have been friends for 42 years. I can’t imagine how I would have made it through all of life’s milestones without her. One of my favorite things about her is how supportive she has always been. Like our senior year of college. It was second semester and I needed two gym blocks to graduate. Gym in college was all about showing up and second semester I was busy with interviews so in order to ensure I did not fail any gyms I took “self paced gym.” You could do this if you wanted to do an activity that the college did not already offer.

Bowling was not a class at Dickinson, so I created one. If you create a self paced gym you have to also offer it up to the whole college to join you. This is the catch that kept most people from creating their own gym classes. When I started this bowling class it instantly became a hit and 140 people signed up for my class. Suddenly, what was supposed to be a gut gym class became a nightmare of me running a bowling league at the Carlisle Lanes. I had to get us “coaches” who actually knew how to bowl.

One day after I had gone to bowling class I arrived at lunch at school. I got my tray and went to the table where Suzanne and I ate with our friends, Janet, Hugh, Doug and Dave every weekday lunch. As I put my tray down I announced, “I bowled a 167 this morning.”

Suzanne immediately responded, “Oh my god, this is getting embarrassing, you are getting good at bowling.” She was right, bowling was certainly not something I was ever going to use again, but at least I graduated.

Some years later, our lunch group all came to Washington and we caravanned to my family farm for a big weekend party. On the drive down the traffic was terrible so we decided to make a stop at the Culpepper Lanes, in Culpepper Virginia to play a game while the traffic thinned. As I threw strike after strike Suzanne admitted to me that she wished she had taken bowling class.

I think it is never too late for us to get that bowling coach. She will certainly be better than me at bowling as she is better at every sport than I am.

Even though we are not getting to be together for her milestone birthday and we will probably not be together for my milestone one this year too I hope the pandemic will ease while we are still in this milestone year so we can be together to make more fun memories, maybe not bowling, perhaps bridge.

Happy Birthday Suzanne!

Ice Cube Variety

When I was a kid ice cubes at home had to be a pre-planned item. We took the aluminum ice cube tray and filled it with water and placed the divider with the handle in the tray and carefully walked it over to the top freezer where we carefully slid it in between the little boxes of frozen peas and the Stouffer’s Spinach soufflé hoping not to slosh more water out of the tray than we kept in.

It was a real test of childhood strength to be able to pull the handle up on the frozen cubes and be able to release some of them to put into our kool aid.

The worst sin you could commit was putting an empty tray back in the freezer since we only had two. Similarly to leaving two squares of toilet paper on the roll and not replacing it, you could get in real trouble for leaving one cube and not refilling the tray with water.

If you wanted crushed ice at home we had a wall mounted ice crusher in our upstairs kitchen. It had a metal funnel with teeth inside it on the top and a red plastic cup screwed on to the bottom, and a handle. You put the cubes in the funnel and closed the lid. Cranking the handle the ice inside the funnel would be crushed by the big metal claws inside depositing small enough shards to fall through the teeth. It was a lot of work to get crushed ice, but boy was it a big treat.

Then the 70’s came and we got an ice maker in our refrigerator. There was a love hate relationship with that ice maker as sometimes our ice tasted oniony. We never solved that mystery.

Carter is back in the sixties as she has a freezer, but no ice maker. She let me know that she only has one ice cube tray as we threw away all her old trays this summer when we returned her to Boston to discover he refrigerator had broken while she was home.

When I went to look on Amazon for ice cube trays I was accosted by the hundreds of different choices for ice cube trays. You can get ones that make big giant cubes for cocktails. You can get octagon shaped cubes and you can get mini cubes that are as close to crushed ices as you can make without the wall mounted machine.

I decided to get her the mini trays. There is no one for her to blame if the trays are not filled so I don’t think she will have that problem. I am certain that a fridge with an ice maker is a life goal for Carter.

Valentine’s Gone to The Dog

Like most Pandemic days, Russ and I were home alone with Shay for Valentine’s Day. As with most Pandemic days Shay spends her day supervising all that Russ does. I am a mere after thought for her. The only time she leaves him and comes to be with me are those few moments he goes to the office once a week to water the plants.

Since it is Valentine’s Day, Russ and I purposely planned to spend some time together, despite Russ having lots of work. Shay had other ideas. While Russ and I tried to watch a taped episode of This Old House, Shay made sure to place herself right between us. If Russ tried to hold my hand, Shay nuzzled her nose right inside our two hands, prying my hand off.

She sat on Russ’ lap, on his chest, on his head. Any place she could send the message, “You belong to me first and foremost.” So this was really a happy Valentine’s Day from Shay to Russ. The love is real. Thank goodness I am secure in my love for Russ for I could never compete with Shay’s adoration. I understand. He is pretty great. I don’t blame her from wanting him to be her Valentine too.

Gotta Love Jill

While I was glued to the impeachment proceedings Jill Biden was signing her giant heart Valentine messages to the country. The hearts were put up on the White House lawn and Jill showed Joe yesterday on their early morning walk of the first dogs.

What a wonderful reflection of our first family. Out with their dogs before going to work, enjoying their coffee and sending sweet messages of love and unity to the country.

Now that the hearings are over we can concentrate on unity. We don’t need to suffer the embarrassment of personal injury lawyers from Philly and their client any more. They can go home and try and collect their fees. Good luck with that.

We can all move on and follow the words of Joe Neguse, the youngest house impeachment manager, who in his closing said he is following the words of Dr. Martin Luther King and chose Love. So between Jill and Joe N. we are reminded we all need to give a lot of love. Jill is portraying that love to everyone and I hope we all can feel it.

Trifecta of Holidays

This weekend has three minor holidays to chose from and since we have nothing else to do we might as well have some minor celebrations.

Today is Chinese New year. Thank god the year of the rat is over as I hate rats and I hated last year. Tonight starts the year of the Ox, which happens to be my birth year. As a Taurus born in the year of the OX I get a double dose of all Ox like traits, like stubbornness, but also hardworking and honest. If you haven’t had dinner yet, make some longevity noodles or dumplings. You can still do it tomorrow. It’s celebration weekend!

Today is also Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, thus no discussion about the impeachment in honor of the greatest Republican. Although Lincoln’s birthday is no longer an official holiday, Monday is Presidents’ Day. Washington’s Birthday is the following Monday and the two of them got smushed together into one Presidents Day. But let’s be clear, we are not celebrating all Presidents. Buchanan does not get to get in on this holiday.

Sunday is the biggest day this weekend since it is Valentine’s Day, or Galentine’s Day, if you are single. Russ and I have been together for enough Valentine’s days that we don’t exchange big gifts. Russ feels a little burned since our first Valentine’s Day he gave me a lens for a camera I did not like. It crushed him, especially since it was too extravagant a gift for young Russ to afford to begin with.

Now we are so romantic that when I has having trouble getting the automatic garage door to go down to day he texted me, “For Valentine’s Day we can give each other a rewriting of the opener.” It’s better than a lens since I open and shut that garage door many times a day.

So I hope you celebrate something this weekend. At least eat something that could be considered part of one of these holidays, from stir fried green beans (green food means money), to lobster for valentines or a Cherry Pie in honor of George Washington and that pesky tree.

Senators, Be Leaders, Not Politicians

As I watch the impeachment hearings I am dismayed to learn that there are fifteen Republican senators who are not even in the room listening. I know that impeachment is a purely political trial, but an idea came to me that could turn it into a trial about leadership.

It would be a very bold move if all the Republican Senators got together and decided to vote as a block to impeach Trump. It would take the political out of the trial, but instead make it about leadership. Upholding our democracy is the most important thing the Senators must do. If they all voted together to stand up to the insurrection it would give them all cover.

Yes, some Trumpers will cry about it, but for Republicans the only hope of saving your party is to stand together against the clearly illegal events of January 6 that Trump is uniquely responsible for.

Consider what not voting for impeachment as a block will do to your party. You will lose even more members than the 140,000 people who have already gone to the trouble of leaving the party. You may break into two parties. Those who support Trump and those who don’t. Two smaller parties will not serve you well in the long run. Trump does not have a bright future as there are still other legal troubles he has to face. If you want to retain any power whatsoever you should stand up to him as one group. He can’t fight all of you. You hold the power to do the right thing and protect America.

Senators, please be leaders and not just politicians. You are stronger as a leader.

The Evidence is Damning

Perhaps you were working on January 6 and were not glued to the TV like I was watching the insurrection live. Perhaps you voted for Trump and have stood by him. Perhaps you are a life long Republican and automatically pull that lever without considering anything else. If you are not enraged by the video shown today at the impeachment trial showing the mob battering Capitol Hill police, perhaps you are not human.

There was nothing patriotic or American about what those people did. There was nothing Patriotic about the man who systematically spent months programming his supporters to storm the Capitol. And now the Senators who are not paying attention, or putting their feet up on the chairs next to them while videos are shown of the Capitol being desecrated are not doing their jobs.

There is no excuse not to fully consider the evidence. Support of this ex-President because you are afraid he will primary you is nothing but cowardly. You should be afraid of not standing up to a bully because we will remember who you are that stand by him despite the overwhelming evidence of causing and insurrection.

You may think you live in a strongly Red state, but at some point citizens will turn on you and say your lack of values does not represent me. Please pay attention to the presentation of the case. Judge the evidence fairly and not through the red lens of Trump. His actions were indefensible and do you want to stand on the wrong side of history by supporting him?

Trump Setting Up Legal Malpractice Claim

If you missed day one of the impeachment hearings you missed one of the greatest shows of a lawyer who was out of his depth in Bruce Castor, in my humble opinion. Never in my life have I see someone so unable to tell a story. Now he didn’t have much to work with given the facts in evidence as we all witnessed on January 6. And he admitted that he was not going to say what happened at the Capitol was not horrible, but what he did say was the worst word soup of garbage that made no sense whatsoever. I can imagine that there are a lot of broken fake gold statues at Mar-a-lago right this minute.

The follow up lawyer Schoen tried to mke some actual legal arguments, but in doing so made it perfectly clear that Trump legally already lost the election so you know that is not the story Trump wants told either.

On the other side of the room were the House impeachment managers who did a masterful job of laying out the story. The thirteen minute movie boiling down the events of January 6 should make us all furious. There is so much clear evidence of insurrection.

The part of the presentation that had me sobbing was when Chief House Manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin closed with a personal note. Raskin had buried his only son on January 5, but came to work on January 6 because “it was his constitutional duty to certify the electors.” He brought his youngest daughter who was 24 and his new son-in-law who is married to his oldest daughter so they could witness the peaceful transfer of power. They asked if it was safe for them to go and Raskin told them, “Of course, it is the Capitol.”

Raskin’s kids were in the gallery when the intruders stormed the building. They were not with Raskin as he was rushed from the house floor. For almost two hours they were separated, hiding in different places from the mob. When they were reunited, Raskin promised his daughter that the next time she came to the Capitol is would be safer and she said, “I am never coming here again.”

I burst into tears. How can we let the desecration of the seat of democracy stand? Adults should not fear going to our Capitol. The most important thing we can do is to not allow any President to incite mob riots on their behalf.

I fear that Trump’s hold on the GOP senators will prevent them from holding him accountable for what is clearly the worst crime. Even if they do, I fear that Trump can claim incompetent council based on today’s opening statements.

Progress Happens, Always Has

I find it so interesting that Anyone is fighting the Green New Deal. Green energy is progress. It is an evolution from dirty energy. Use to be that Republicans loved new commerce. It was a chance to make money. Why would anyone want to fight to keep coal. For years the people who mined coal fought about the terrible working conditions and black lung disease they got from doing that work.

New energy production requires new workers to make it. New energy does not happen without workers. It is just different work. People have always had to change the type of work they did as progress happened.

When we stopped driving horse and buggy’s and went to cars we no longer needed people to pick up horse shit in the streets. It was a terrible job. Instead they might have gone to working at a filling station and pumping gas. Remember the old days when a gas attendant pumped your gas for you, now that only happens in New Jersey. We also did not need as many farriers to shoe horses, or black smith to make those horse shoes. Those people might have learned how to make or fix cars.

When we got electric street lights in cities we no longer needed lamp lighters to go around and light the gas street lamps. When we got refrigerators we no longer needed people to cut ice out of frozen ponds in the winter and store it. There was no need for ice men to come to your house and put a block of ice in your icebox.

Before computers offices used to have rooms of women who were they typing pool. They would type all the letters and invoices that companies sent out. Now companies don’t have typing pools as well as having far few secretaries. Everyone knows how to types and does their own correspondence.

Change is going to happen. With that change comes new opportunities. Why fight about keeping carbon emitting, ozone killing energy systems? The new technologies will still require workers to make and run them and the jobs might be cleaner and safer too. Don’t fight about keeping people under ground digging coal or on oil platforms in the ocean drilling for oil. It’s time to change like they did from the horse shit picker upper. Who would fight to still have that?

Dull, Dull, Dull

In the third quarter of this Super Bowl I am wondering what second rate football team is thinking that they could be the next Buccaneers if they could only pay Brady and Gronkowski enough money to come play on their team. This game has been fairly boring thanks to good defense by the Bucs to keep Mahomes from doing anything. Brady certainly deserves the GOAT award.

It seems like it would only be fair to spread the Brady/Gronk team around to more football teams. Age appears to not be an issue. Brady looks like he has at least a few more years of football in him. This one sided game is boring.

The game is not over yet, but it is not looking good for KC. The penalties are killing them. I am not sure I can stay with it long enough to write a longer blog. The commercials aren’t good enough.

Do It Yourself

I think I have been needlepointing seriously for about the last six or seven years. I first learned to needlepoint as a child, but stopped around college. About a year after I restarted, my friend Christy picked it up again too. Since we were both self taught we were enthralled to listen to our friend Elizabeth talk about the workshops she would go to all over the country. Elizabeth was the best stitcher we knew and we envied her wealth of stitch knowledge.

One of Elizabeth’s favorite teachers is the famous Tony Mineri. Five years ago Christy and I got the idea that we would go to one of his workshops. We looked online to see how they worked. The one we picked to go to was a three days class where you sent your canvas ahead to Tony, who would create a stitch guide for your project and then when you got to class, he would teach you the various stitches. I purchased this cute bunny to be the canvas I would send him.

Christy and I called the shop in Texas eight months in advance of the workshop. The lady on the phone laughed hysterically. Turns out that class had been sold out two years previous. We were welcome to find a class two or three years out and sign up. We thought it was crazy. We couldn’t know if we were free three years in advance.

That was five years ago. Two weeks ago I finally gave up holding on this canvas and decided to just make up my own stitches. It has been a very slow two weeks so I stitched like crazy and didn’t worry about doing graduate level stitches.

I have decided that anything I need to learn I will just teach myself. I can’t wait around for two or three years to learn new things. I have stitching time now, during the pandemic. Once we get out of lockdown I am going to find new things to do and places to go!

Margaret’s Big News

While I was busy on a zoom meeting this morning I got a particularly happy voicemail from my middle sister Margaret. “I’ve got good news. Call me back.” I left my meeting and called Margaret. “Pete and I got married this morning.” Since it was only ten o’clock right then my first question after saying “Hooray!” was what time did you get married?”

“At nine in the morning over video.”

Turns out that in Annapolis the court clerk who would normally be performing marriages down at the court house has been very busy doing nothing but Zoom weddings all day, everyday, for months. This makes getting married very easy.

Margaret getting married is big news in our family. This is a day we have waited for and we are so happy that Margaret is so happy. We have only met Pete once when Russ and I had breakfast with them right before Margaret moved to Annopolis to be closer to each other. We welcome him to our crazy family.

When I called Carter to tell her she asked if there were any photos. I had asked Margaret the same thing, but they forgot to take a photo of themselves on the computer getting married. Thankfully I take photos at everything and took this one at the breakfast with Pete and Margaret.

I am sure Russ has not told him about the support group for people married to anyone with Michie blood (My grandmother’s family), but there will be plenty of time at a future family event to give him the low down on that. For now, we wish Margaret and Pete a lifetime of happiness. Better to find love late than not at all.

Super Bowl Alone, Please

We have gotten through the big spike in Covid due to Thanksgiving and Christmas. The numbers of infections were the worst and we are still at a spike in deaths leftover from those Christmas get togethers. But infection rates are going down thanks to people actually staying apart and wearing masks in public. Vaccines are happening everyday and we can make it through this pandemic, but we must remain vigilant for a few more months.

Sunday is the Super Bowl. Normally it is a big weekend to buy new TVs and invite your friends over to eat and scream at the game. Don’t do it that way this year. For most of us we don’t go to the game, we just watch it on TV. You can still do that, just do it alone.

Here are a few of the benefits for a solo Super Bowl:

1. You can stretch out on the couch all alone.

2. You can make your favorite foods and not be mad that someone else ate all the wings.

3. You can double dip to your hearts content.

4. You can actually hear the commercials, which are the best part of the show.

5. No one will complain when you sing along to the half time show.

6. You can work off some of those chips by dancing during halftime.

7. If the game gets boring you can change the channel

8. If you want to watch the game with friends you can set up a Zoom

9. You won’t get Covid watching alone

10. You won’t die from going to a Super Bowl Party.

Let’s keep the curve heading in the right direction and not blow things up over a football game. There is no way to eat nachos and drink bear with a mask on. It will be too cold to watch the game outside. And I am yet to go to a Super Bowl Party where there was not some screaming at the TV. All those things can’t be done safely with other people outside your household. Don’t die over a game.

Canada Rocks Again

Today Canada officially put the Proud Boys on the list of official terrorists along with 12 terrorist groups. Some are far-right or neo-Nazi organizations and other are affiliated with the Islamic state and Al Qaeda. I love that Canada has an official list of terrorist groups and calls them out. If you are on this list the Canadian government can seize your assets and prevent you from raising money inside their boarder. I guess if you raise money that means there is just more for the government to take.

Officially the Canadian a government said the Proud Boys “espouse misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and/or white supremacist ideologies and associate with white supremacist groups.” I can only imagine how mad it is making the Proud Boys to be on the same list as Al Qaeda.

According to the New York Times “men in Ontario in this group describe themselves as “incels,” or involuntary celibates, a term used online by sexually frustrated men with misogynist views that sometimes tip into violence.” And thus the crux of the issue. These Proud Boys can’t get any, so they lash out about it.

I think the whole movement is about sex or the lack of availability of it to these guys. So they hate women, because they can’t get one and if a black woman liked one of them they might not stick with their white supremacy. The bottom line is men who don’t get sex are angry. In order to not feel like such a loser they band together as a group of men who all aren’t getting sex and call it something different. But I bet you anything, they would disband if only they each had a woman who loved them.

It is a sad state. They may get off on carrying and shooting guns, but it is not the kind of getting off they truly want. I fear that the only way to de-program these Proud Boys is to find them some women, but I don’t think it would be fair to any woman, even the worst women, to expose them to these boys. And boys is what they will stay. They even picked a name that exposes them to not be men.

Good for Canada for putting them on the terrorist list. Those sad, frustrated boys.

Collections Under Glass

When I was a tween my fashionista grandmother shared a book with me she loved called Minding the Store about the early years of Neiman Marcus. The book was filled with stories about the famous customer service to the rich and famous customers of the flagship store in Dallas. My grandmother loved the antidotes about the man who bought his wife everything in the Store’s Christmas window and had them recreate the window display at his house to surprise his wife on Christmas morning.

One story stood out to me. A husband bought his wife one of every color of cashmere sweater they had in the store. The brilliant merchandiser told the man he would wrap it in a famous way. So they got a giant brandy snifter and layered the sweaters in a rainbow inside the glass, with a white fluffy angora sweater on the top and a big ruby ring in the middle as the cherry on the sundae. My grandmother drooled over the thought of all those sweaters. I, on the other hand, was drawn to the idea of the display of the collection of sweaters

That love of grouping like items in glass has been one that I have carried with me ever since reading that book. I also am a collector. I love to have groups of things and enjoy the hunt for things I collect.

In the past few years I decided I have probably collected enough of “things.” Although I still collect fabrics to keep in my stash of quilting materials and fibers and canvas for needlepoint. I can justify those collections as craft materials for on-going work. For the most part I stopped collecting decorative items as I have an over abundance.

Recently I channeled my inner Bernie Marcus and have put some of my collections in glass jars. I have hundreds of British Enamel boxes that are good at collecting dust. Putting them all together in an apothecary jar keeps them dust free and is a space saving display. Same with silver baby cups and old Mah Jongg tiles from sets with no jokers so they are just pretty, but not good for playing with. Unfortunately I don’t have a large collection of ruby rings to display in a jar. I hate that I have even thought of it now and will have to fight my urge to search eBay.

My Uniform

As the eleventh month of the pandemic engulfs us I have succumbed to corona dressing. As it has been cold and rainy with no place to go I realized this afternoon that I have worn the same outfit three days in a row. Not that anyone else noticed either.

Dressed head to toe in black, warm and comfy has been the theme. I have put on clean black socks and underwear everyday, and then lifted the top layer of clothing from the chair besides my bed to get dressed. The pants, and shirt are a matching set, thinner than sweat shirt material, but warm and fuzzy on the inside like a good hoodie. I resemble some lumpy kind of grim Reaper, but I am warm and unrestricted.

I feel like I have reached a real low for dressing even though I am still showering and putting on mascara. It proves to me there are still available depths to descend.

When all I am doing is cleaning, binge watching British detective shows and needlepointing I don’t see the need to create new outfits. This one has served me well in keeping me warm as the heating in the house is somewhat uneven, especially as the sun goes down.

Once I realized that these clothes had become a uniform I thought that I maybe should pick something different out to wear tomorrow, but once I looked at my calendar I decided the point was moot.

I can see that the need for a calendar is also unnecessary. At this point I am just waiting for spring so I can work in the garden and I will be able to tell when the days are warm enough without the need of some counting tool. I can only imagine what horrific uniform I will come up with for gardening, but since I don’t like being dirty I will have to have multiples of each top and bottom so I can put on something clean each day. For now, in winter, clean is all relative. A black uniform is very forgiving.

Could QAnon Really Be The New QVC?

The more I hear about the crazy conspiracy theories of QAnon the more I wonder who benefits from starting this? I find it is no surprise that so many American are so gullible. Look at the powerball and mega millions lotteries. You have a 320,000,000:1 chance of hitting the power ball, yet millions of people put in their two bucks to try and win the lottery.

Now two bucks is not that much to risk, but most people don’t just spend single digits, they bet twenties or hundreds. Many of those people who buy those lottery tickets are missing an important tooth or don’t have enough savings to cover a months bills, yet they still buy lottery tickets without winning much. That’s gullible to me.

The decades long allure of QVC and Home shopping network play on this same group of people. Those who believe a beautiful spokes model convince them that if they purchase this skin cream they will look fifteen years younger, for just four monthly payments of $6.99. The buyers will still be paying for that cream long after it is used up and they still have the same wrinkles. Gullible.

Now I want to know who is selling stuff to the people who believe in conspiracy theories, because I want to follow the money? I don’t see any other reason for people to create these outlandish claims. So is it in the best interests of the folks who sell survival kits, or weapons or protective clothing to get people ginned up about their safety so they buy their products?

So is QAnon the new QVC? Instead of tiny Chinese vases or velvet covered hangers is QAnon actually some big consumer consortium set up to sell survivalist gear? I don’t want to do any deep dive searches on the internet to find out, but I am very interested in following the money because I believe money is behind most everything.


Based on looking at the weather map today I can bet that if you are reading this it is very cold where you live. Carter texted us a photo this morning of ice on the inside of her kitchen window. This is what happens when you live in a old building in Boston where your one radiator is three rooms away from the kitchen.

I suggested she turn on her oven and open the door since her landlord pays for the gas. Of course you have to be careful about running your oven unattended, but as long as she was in her kitchen it seemed like a safe thing to do rather than freezing to death.

I didn’t bother going outside today. It was just too cold. Ever since an unnamed relative used to throw me and my sisters outside during snow or ice storms I avoid unnecessary cold trips. I don’t mind enjoying a new fallen snow in the bright sunshine because the reflective quality of the sun on the snow makes it very pleasant, but a windy cold gray day is not my cup of tea.

Tonight I went to retrieve my nightgown from the dryer in the garage. Since the cycle finished hours ago the fabric was freezing even though it was dry. I brought it up to my bath room and put the hairdryer in the neck and turned it on high. For about two minutes I blew hot hair into my nightgown before I slipped it on. It was heaven to have the warm, soft material engulf my cold body.

I think I am going to have to pre-warm my nightgown all winter now that I have discovered how good it feels. I hope you are staying warm where you are. Don’t forget all the heating pads, electric blankets and hairdryers you have to keep you toasty.

Baking as Church

Tonight my church had a fun Zoom Bread Baking class with a cool baker named Kendal Vanderslice from Edible Theology. It was short on theology and long on great bread baking knowledge, which was very informative.

We each mixed up a dough with white and wheat flours a little salt, tiny amount of yeast and water. It is a slow, long rise dough so we learned about stretching it and resting it, but we did not bake it. Based on what I learned tonight I hope to have a beautiful loaf to show tomorrow morning. For now I have my dough resting in a bowl on the counter of the kitchen, covered by a damp tea towel.

It was an excellent Zoom class. One of the things I have discovered I love about Zoom is that I am able to have side conversations and not get in trouble for talking in class. I am looking forward to posting my loaf on Instagram along with those of my classmates and see how they all turned out.

I love that getting together to learn to bake bread is something my church plans for us to do to stay connected during this time when we have to be apart. Maybe in the fall we can gather together in the new fabulous kitchen in the fellowship hall and test out our new baking skills. We have such a fun church.

Beautiful Shay

Unlike the rest of us, Shay has not changed her grooming schedule due to the Pandemic. She has not adopted a Pajamas-all-the-time wardrobe. Her feet have not widened thanks to not wearing real shoes. She does not skip daily showers or forgoes washing her hair for three days.

Shay still insists on looking her best for visitors or those she might greet on a walk, even if she tends to ignore most beings she encounters out in public. A jaunty bandanna or her Barbour jacket are required most days. If she wore earrings they would always be diamonds, that’s why we have refused to pierce her ears.

When Shay ventures out for an exploration around our house she demands a special paw washing and drying at the front door because she does not like the feeling of dirt between her toes.

Yesterday was her day of beauty when her Mercedes Metrohound van pulled up to pamper her. She greatly dislikes the hairdryer, but will endure it on low when her face is being dried because she likes the look of a well groomed snout. Shay is the only one in the house who has kept up her grooming regiment, although she doesn’t seem to love us scruffy folks any less.

We humans could take a page out of her book and keep up appearances for the sake of our dignity. She models good behavior for us, if only we would pay attention. I think she will just have to keep at us a little bit longer.

The Extroverts Pandemic Pain

Being an off the charts extrovert during the pandemic means I don’t get a daily high from seeing friends and thus I normally sleep well. Pre-Pandemic if Russ and I went to an evening soirée I would come home totally charged up, me unable to fall asleep and he, as the introvert, practically had to be carried to bed from the car.

Yesterday I had an evening Zoom Program with my non-profit group where I moderated followed up by an unusually long late night call with my college daughter. Those two “peoplely” interactions had all my extrovert juices flowing so I could not fall asleep. I stayed up going down a rabbit hole on Facebook. I was prompted to friend a woman who was in my class at boarding school. I opened her page and found her in a photo with a man who had been a dear friend of mine in Washington, whom I had lost touch with when he broke up with my friend and moved away.

This collision of two of my worlds, late at night, when I should have been sleeping, got me even more worked up and consequently I hardly slept at all. Fast forward to tonight. Running on fumes, I had a very rare Zoom gathering late tonight. My friend Sally Schott had won a Zoom book group meeting with the author Kelly Corrigan, a fabulous writer of memoirs. We had read her book “Tell me more” and she joined Sally and 19 of Sally’s friends to talk with us.

Kelly, also has a success Podcast called Kelly Corrigan Wonders so she is one of those rare authors who can talk and write. Rather than give us a canned speech about her book, she just let us ask her questions, many of which were about her writing process. Since she has written four memoirs I was very interested since writing a daily blog is like writing a memoir in real time.

After our hour with Kelly was done Sally hosted an after party Zoom for the die hards in the group. I had a good two hours of grown female zoom party, like kerosene on my extrovert fire. Gone was my exhaustion from the previous 24 hours. Now I am searching for a crash so that I don’t have two non-sleeping nights in a row.

Somehow I am going to have to find friends who only want to Zoom in the morning so I can put that extrovert energy to good use during day light hours and be able to fall fast asleep at the right time. Hurry sleep, I have needlepoint Zoom early tomorrow morning. I can’t sleep late and I am too old to pull two all nighters in a row.

Succession Planning for Your Non-Profit

I am lucky enough to be on the leadership committee of a group called the Harvard 100. It is a high faulting name of a group that is the opposite of high faulting. The group is made up of Non-Profit leaders, both executive directors and Board chairs from the Research Triangle. We were started by a great Philanthropist Chuck ReCorr who asserted that investing in leadership makes non-profits better. We all have been to non-profit leadership training at Harvard and Chuck has been nurturing this group for the last ten years so that non-profits in the Triangle can work together collaboratively. Today there are over 130 Harvard Grads who are part of our group.

Tonight we had a virtual meeting about Succession Planning for non-profits. We focused on succession for the Executive directors tonight since this a big topic. Bert Armstrong gave a presentation and then we had a case study from one of our members who had a robust succession plan.

The idea of succession planning is important to all organizations. Succession of leaders happens whether you like it, or are prepared or not. There is emergency and/or interim succession if someone gets hit by a bus and there are long planned for retirements and all kinds of things in between.

To me one of the unforgotten reasons for a succession plan is so you can fire a poor leader if you have to. I was on a board where the executive director turned out to be a liar. When I brought this to the attention of the board chair she said she didn’t have time to find a new Executive Director so she wasn’t going to fire her. The truth was we didn’t have a succession plan and the board chair was lazy. I quit that board that day.

Tonight the Harvard 100 announced a grant opportunity for all Non-profits in the triangle to compete for. We have five $5,000 grants to give to organizations that create or update their succession plans. You can go to to read about how to apply to win one of these grants. Your organization does not have to be part of the Harvard 100. The slides from today’s presentation, as well as a recording of the meeting should be up on the website if you missed the meeting. If you have questions feel free to contact me.

We Need Vaccine Manufacturing To Increase

From what it sounds like in the news there seems to be shortage of Covid Vaccines which is slowing the process. The delivery of the product does not seem to be an issue and it appears that the states could handle at least double or more product if they had it. So the pinch point is getting the vaccines from the manufacturers.

We have two companies who have approved vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna. Johnson and Johnson may have a vaccine in the middle of February. Today Merck announced they are pulling the plug on their vaccine trials. Merck was not part of project Warp Speed so they may not have been in the projections for vaccinations. But Merck was trying to develop a vaccine. If that was the case, they must have had plans to manufacture a vaccine if they were able to invent it.

Why can’t Biden use the war time production act to have the Pfizer and/or Moderna vaccines manufactured at Merck facilities? There must be a way to build more facilities to produce vaccines.

I am not surprised that the last administration did not have a plan and did not tell the truth on the numbers of vaccines the US government has, but now is the time to change.

Currently the states are alerted on Friday the amount of vaccine they will get the next week, usually by Tuesday night and then they are running out of those shots by Friday. We need a seven days a week supply so states can be giving shots everyday.

Happy Birthday to My Mom Tomorrow

As far as I am concerned Covid Birthdays don’t count. There are no celebrations, no lunches out, no gatherings so you don’t have to count Covid birthdays in your year count. So my Mom is still the same age tomorrow as she is today. It my be her big day, but she is not aging one bit.

That part is true about her anyway. She may be an octogenarian, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at her. I think my Mom has looked the same for the last thirty years. What is her secret?

It could be the clean air she lives in. Perhaps it is all the art she does. Certainly her life of eating one soft boiled egg for breakfast everyday might have something to do with it. She probably would tell you it’s drinking white wine with ice that keeps her young. Whatever the reason we might never know.

If you know my mother, please send her an email tomorrow or post something on her Facebook or Instagram to wish her a Happy birthday.

I am looking forward to the day when we are all vaccinated from Covid that we can celebrate together. Until then I must wish her virtual best wishes as I want her around for a lot more birthdays.

This Year’s Big Thing

A couple of weeks before Christmas Russ and Carter come to me all concerned about what I am going to do with my time in the next year. This concern always bugs me at the time they do it. They try and make it seem like I am not doing enough to improve the world. Come Christmas Day I usually find out that the whole reason for the awkward conversation is that they are searching for something to give me for Christmas that has to do with my big life plan.

You would think I remember this in mid December, but I don’t. This year, with Covid, I had greater limitations on what my big thing for the year was going to be. I already have my garden ready to go based on last year, but that is a seasonal big thing. Russ and Carter were looking for something more year round, so I threw out I might start working on a cook book. They took right to that idea and encouraged me that it should be my big thing. I wondered why they liked that idea so much.

Then come Christmas and one of my big presents was the promise for all the photography equipment I might need to photograph my recipes. Ah ha! The reason they bug me. Well it turns out I already had most of the equipment I need and so far I have gotten zip. I also have not been working on my cookbook at all.

Yesterday I thought I should get started. It was going to be my big thing after all. I made my homemade English muffins to test my recipe. Today I tried to photograph them. I was all prepared to retouch the pictures, but I think I captured it in the camera.

If I am going to try and create a cookbook I might have to make this a two year project since it is almost February and I have done one recipe.

My Mima and Hank Aaron

My very wonderful grandmother Mima was a genteel southern lady. She wore monogramed linen Doncaster dresses with hose and spectator pumps on the hottest of summer days. She served half a canned pear with a dollop of mayonnaise on a butter lettuce leaf and thought that was all you needed for lunch. And she wrote the most beautiful of thank you notes for the smallest of kindness.

I never once saw her wear a pair of pants or heavens forbid shorts or a bathing suit, despite the pool in her yard. She cut the seatbelts out of her peacock blue Dodge Dart because they wrinkled her clothes. And she wrapped Christmas presents better than Neiman Marcus with little springs of pine cones or an elaborate tassel attached to the ribbons.

To me she was everything feminine with big fluffy powder puffs on her dressing table. There was one thing she loved that was the biggest dichotomy to me, The Atlanta Braves.

Mima would listen to the baseball game on the radio in her car, or watch them on TV. I knew nothing about baseball and really didn’t care, but I can remember sitting with her in her sun porch off the kitchen watching the very boring game on TV, back when the picture wasn’t so good so it was hard to see the ball.

Mima told me the best player in the world was Hank Aaron. I believed her since I believed everything she told me. She loved to watch Hank Aaron because he would actually make home runs, the only exciting part of the game to me. I remember Mima being sad when he retired, but that did not end her devotion to the Braves.

As she aged she lost her eye sight to Macular Degeneration. Somehow, as blind as she was she would still watch the Braves on TV, pulled up close to the screen with her head turned slightly to the side. One of the last times I was with her in 1999, before she passed away, she was watching a Braves game and was worried she blocking my view of the screen as she had to be right up on the TV.

“It’s alright Mima, I don’t need to see.”

“You aren’t missing much. Hank Aaron isn’t playing,” she said.

I hope my Mima gets to welcome Hank Aaron to heaven, because that would be the definition of it for her.

Back to Boring Things To Do

Today was down right boring. No crazy politics to try and comprehend. No crazy people spouting conspiracy theories, no First Ladies dissing their husbands. Just dullness. Boring is good. One problem with boring right now is we have to stay home and be bored. So we need to find ways to entertain ourselves with regular stuff like TV, books and hobbies until the weather gets warm enough to go back outside and garden.

I welcome recommendations for all indoor activities you are enjoying right now. I can recommend the HBO documentary TIGER. It is a two episode show about Tiger Woods’ life takes you from his early childhood and family life up until his 2019 win at the Masters. I have always liked Tiger, but had forgotten a lot of his troubles. This biopic gives you insight into what it was like to be Earl Woods only child and how that formed Tiger. In the end I was profoundly sad. It is worth the three hours to watch this show.

My book group just finished a wonderful book called Shuggie Bain. Although it is listed as fiction it is more or less a memoir of this young man growing up poor in Glasgow, Scotland in the 80’s. The Glaswegian accent and vocabulary take some getting used to, but the heartbreaking story makes learning a new language worth it.

I am back to needlepointing more regularly and highly recommend it as an easy hobby you can pick up this winter. Needlepointing in like coloring with yarn. Learning takes a mere minutes, but can give you a lifetime of joy. I am happy to consult on how you get started if you are new to needlepoint.

So there is the boring life I am so happy to have. No intrigue, no news scrolling. Just sitting around, waiting for my group to be called up for a vaccine.

Shout out what you are doing. We still have a lot of winter ahead of us.

The Sudden Tears

Today was a day long awaited for in our house. The exhaustion of the last four years have taken a physical toll. I planned to spend the whole day taking in the whole inauguration and it did not disappoint.

I watched as the previous occupant slunk out of town early as a spoiled toddler who does not want to share his toys. Nothing thrilled me more than seeing him take his clan with him to southern Florida where property values are dropping fast.

Back at the Capitol it was a joy to see previous Presidents gather to witness the history about to take place. Thankfully Pence is enough of an institutionalist to show up and do his duty. Even Dan Quayle came, now that he is no longer the worst Vice President in history from Indiana.

As Kamala and Joe with their families in tow filled the seats on the stage I was thrilled to see a good representation of what America looks like. When it came time for Kamala to take her oath I stood up to take a photo of her on my TV and as I did I burst into tears. Seeing a woman become Vice President made me more emotional than I had anticipated.

My whole life I had been told that women could be anything. I believed that. I am a product of all girls secondary schools, I have known and worked for great women, I have been in positions of leadership myself, but somehow, having a woman VP brought me great joy. After the last administration where photos from cabinet meetings looked like the old white guys club, Kamala was what I was missing.

Then there was Joe, with his much needed talk of unity in his most sincere folksy way. No gloating, no snideness, just honesty. Just soul cleansing.

But the women of the day stole the show. Lady Gaga was awe inspiring, Jlo beautiful, but the biggest hit of the whole day was the 22 year old Poet Amanda Gorman who recited a poem she wrote just last week after the riots on the Capitol called “The Hill We Climb.” She was the star of the day. She is the one to watch and I am ready to cast a vote for her now in 16 years when she runs for President.

Amanda Gorman gives me hope for the future. Joe and Kamala are who we need today, but Amanda brought tears to my eyes for a second time in an hour. I have seen the future and it is powerful. I have hope and peace that we can be a better America and the youth will lead us.

Then after laying a wreath at the tomb of the unknown solider Joe got to work signing 17 executive orders. No balls or parties, no redecorating the White House. Just work on behalf of the American people. As he said in his speech, there is a lot to do. God bless our President and Vice President.

Tiffany’s Plea for Attention

Poor Tiffany Trump, the only child of Donald to have no agency. The three oldest children all have each other, Barron has Melania and that leaves Tiffany all alone. Born before her mother could convince Trump to marry her, Tiffany has had it hard from the start.

Now, as her father is busy contemplating if it is right to preemptively pardon her older siblings for all the crimes he knows they have committed, but have not been charged with yet, Tiffany is desperate for the same sort of attention.

She tried being the more educated of the siblings, being the only one who got a graduate degree. But being a lawyer just puts her at odds with her father so she is yet to take the bar exam so she won’t be bound to turn him in for crimes she might witness just be being at the dinner table.

As her older, more loved half siblings get all attention Tiffany does one last thing to gain her father’s attention and announces her engagement on his last full day in office. Perhaps this makes him even madder at her because now he can’t not have the pleasure of hosting a White House wedding, a spectacle he would have loved. Like her birth, her timing is not ever of his liking. He did get to do the unthinkable and hold a White House funeral for his brother so at least he had that.

As Daddy is in serious debt and will likely be busy with impeachment and other law suits I can only imagine he will not want to throw her a lavish wedding. Her poor sap mother Marla, who only got a million dollars and no alimony in her divorce won’t be able to throw her the kind of wedding daddy threw Princess Ivanka, so once again Tiffany is going to be the afterthought of a child.

Apparently Tiffany and her betrothed are searching for a house in Miami. When will she learn that she is never going to be the apple of her father’s eye and try and not compete with her older half sibs. Perhaps she is holding out hope that they all end up in jail and she will be the last one standing.

MLK Jr. Love Not Hate

On this day of service in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. if we can embrace one thing let it be that we try to love rather than hate. Due to Covid many of us were not able to do the kind of service we might normally do on this day, so instead let’s do something harder than packing food or gathering books, let’s vow to try love one another.

As a Christian, I confess that I find the hardest commandment to be “to love my neighbor as myself.” I don’t think I am alone in this. Not committing murder seems like a walk in the park in comparison.

Christians are not alone in this idea of loving the others. Most religions have a similar tenant. Martin Luther King Jr. preached often on the need for us to love the people who don’t necessarily offer that same curtesy.

I find that I have to really work hard to love people I have major disagreements with. One person who disagrees on politics with me has accused me of hating her. It is a very self centered view to make that jump that my dislike of one political actor means I hate someone who holds a similar view. Although I have told her I don’t hate her that message seems to fall on deaf ears. Apparently I need to try harder to convey that love, while I can still disagree on politics.

As we enter a new era in two days I am hoping that the temperature can be turned down and we can work harder on loving each other. We are all neighbors in this small world and hate does nothing to make the world a better place. Hate usually eats away at the hater more than it hurts the hated. So if only for yourself, try and learn to love. Your own life will be improved.

The Last Grift

As the minutes tick down on 45’s days in DC, so do his last chance at a major grift as President. As if it wasn’t bad enough that he solicited funds from his supporters to supposedly pay for his fight for the election, but now it is reported that he is “selling” pardons. Allegedly various criminals begging for a pardon have been told by a Guliani associate that a pardon will cost $2million. I guess to some big time criminals, like el Chapo, $2 Million is doable.

It will be interesting to see who gets a pardon in the waning hours. If they are rich we should see if any money changed hands.

I feel like the pardon power is something that should be revisited. A president can not pardon someone who was involved in a crime that involved that President, but we should t have a President who was involved in any crimes in the first place.

President’s should not be allowed to pardon their family members or preemptively pardon anyone. It seems like all pardons should have to be approved by more than just the President and they certainly should not be allowed to make money on pardons.

It is no surprise that the team of Rudy and 45 could come up with this last big grift. It is just one more reason the guy needs to be removed from ever running for national office again.

How Much TV Do We Need?

I keep getting messages about joining the new Discovery + TV subscription. It is streaming service for channels like HGTV, Food Network, TLC and lots more. Now I already get these channels on my cable subscription and am perfectly happy to watch whatever shows happen to be playing at the time, just like those of us who grew up with over the air tv have always done.

Do I need to pay $4.99 to stream with commercials or $7.99 without commercials every month to just have the same shows on demand? Apparently there will be some content that will only be on streaming, but if I don’t know about it will I miss it? Probably not.

This got me to considering how many different channels we already subscribe to; Amazon Prime, Netflix, Apple, Hulu, Disney, Acorn, HBOMax, YouTube and there might be others I don’t even know about that we are paying for. This and we also have cable with DVR’s and all that entails. How much TV do two middle aged people need?

I probably need to keep a log of what I am watching on which networks and start to whittle down what we purchase. I am hoping that when COVID subsides we won’t be so TV dependent. The TV has just become company replacing real people.

We also have been listening to a lot more podcasts, and audible books as well as reading real books during lock down, which eats into possible TV time. That is a good thing, so if I didn’t have all these choices might I just read more?

I venture I spend at least an hour or two a week just scrolling through channels to decide what I want to watch. One way that time gets cut down is by finding one series and binging on that until I have exhausted it. I particularly like to find a show with at least four seasons and watch nothing but that for a few weeks.

I think the advent of Discovery + has made me decide that I don’t need it, but that I don’t need a lot of what we have. Time to cut back. Covid will end and maybe I can spend time with real people and not the imaginary ones on TV.

Why Get Dressed At All?

Today I had a zoom meeting with a group of women who I regularly get together with. As we were meeting an hour earlier than usual one of them suggested we Zoom in our Pajamas. Since we are all friends it seemed like a perfectly normal thing to do in these abnormal times.

Most of us arrived in our night clothes, which all just happened to be navy and white. We could have been Gladys Night and the Pips, except that we can’t sing or dance in unison. Our gathering talked and laughed for a good hour and a half, happy as clams in our soft clothes.

Before you think of these ladies as types who go about in nothing but yoga pants so how far down the ladder could PJ’s be? In normal times, when we used to meet in person, I would be the only person in jeans and the rest would be in dresses with heels, or a cashmere sweater only available at Neiman Marcus. So a PJ gathering was quite a departure.

It was almost eleven before I attempted to put on real clothes. I am not sure it really mattered. I didn’t have to leave the house. No one was coming over. I had no other Zooms. Russ was busy on his own Zooms all day and Shay would not rat me out. I am not sure I have reached the point of not getting dressed at all, but I can see that day could come.

I am not talking about a sick day, where staying in your bed clothes is not unheard of, or even a snow day where you wouldn’t be going anywhere any way. But I can see the day coming when I might look at my empty calendar and wonder, “Why get dressed at all?”

I am not talking about going naked. That might cause heart failure as I have plenty of mirrors in the house. I could see how my sleeping clothes could just become my new uniform. Goodbye Yoga pants.


So to give me a sense of control in my world, I took to washing all my windows. This is a job I hate doing, but I love the results. With 60 windows I had to spread the job out over a few days, but it was what I needed to do as I listened to political wrangling.

When the sparkle and shine of Christmas was put away and the horrid year that was 2020 was in the rear view mirror I was hoping for 2021 to bring forth something hopeful and bright. Fourteen days in and on a day-by-day average 2021 has been worse than 2020, but as we add more days we can lower the average to try and be an overall better than last.

As I sat in my house the past few days with the fog of our political strife hanging all around me I was over taken by my own dirt. Literally, how dirty my windows were. The film of dust and grime that had clung to the panes was all I could see now that there were no decorations to distract my eye.

I knew I only could do the insides so I called for reinforcements to do the outside. Today four tiny men came with many tall ladders and they washed every pane, sill, screen and storm on the outside. They also blew every pine needle and leaf off the roof.

Although nothing changed in the world outside, my view from inside is greatly improved. I can see clearly and without haze. The sun is shining and the sky has been the perfect shade of Carolina blue. It is the dawning of a cleaner day that I need.

I know that these perfect windows will not last. That stormy days and smokey cooking will start to slowly discolor my colorless view. But for today, I have a respite from all the dirt has to throw at me.